The Spirit of Belfast by Dan George
Trying to define what determines the spirit of a city is a difficult task, more difficult is trying to embody that spirit in sculpture. The task fell to sculptor Dan George who was commissioned as part of the Streets Ahead project.
The Streets Ahead project is part of the Department for Social Development’s renewal project to regenerate the streets of the City Centre. The plan is a three stage process from the initial stages of ‘streetscaping’ where streets are given new surface treatments, street lighting and furniture is added, giving connectivity and creating an attractive pedestrian environment. The Spirit of Belfast is a large part of the public art section of this.
Its placement is the completion of the refurbished Arthur’s Square in the city centre which creates a piazza running into the new Victoria Square complex. The sculpture stands at seven meters high and comprises interlocking arcs of steel. The locals of Belfast have a habit of nicknaming their sculptures, from the twenty meter high Beacon of Hope which is affectionately dubbed, ‘Nuala with the Hula’, to the forty meter high Buttress piece RISE, known as ‘The Balls On the Falls’. The Spirit of Belfast is no different, and has garnered the local title ‘The Onion Rings’ a reference to local crisp manufacturer Tayto’s popular spherical onion rings snack.
The Spirit of Belfast, consists of intertwined steel arcs and like the arc of a story narrative, they are designed to illustrate a city narrative. The city narrative is illustrated through two distinct areas of the sculpture, day and night. During the day the steel of the sculpture is designed to illustrate the strength and shape of the shipbuilding past of the city. The huge girder-like arcs display the power to shape steel as part of the building process but also the yardmen’s ability to turn the metal into powerful ships.
In the dark the sculpture is illuminated, the illuminations are designed so the light acts to turn the sculpture into ribbons. In this case the ribbons depict the linen heritage of the city. The metal is treated so that when lit the texture cast looks like light linen ribbons which are being blown upward.
The artist Dan George said “The ‘Spirit of Belfast’ is the manifestation of our energy as we look to the future as well as a meditation on our past. It is a timepiece that weaves together the strength of steel and the delicacy of light, ocean liners and linen, progress and peace”
The sculpture was selected as part of a competition to select a new art piece for the Streets Ahead project. It was publically voted to win gaining over forty percent of the cast ballots. It’s a dynamic piece of sculpture which combines a dual effect and narrative, be sure to catch it at both times of the day.
Browse our deals for things to do in Belfast.
Dawn is a drama lecturer and Chief Executive of a Shakespeare charity in Belfast. She’s worked in the arts for longer than she cares to remember, her focus is on youth drama and opportunities for young people in the creative arts. As editor of Inanity and the Girl she spends her free time writing about vintage living on the retro inspired blog where she discusses vintage styling, baking and tips on period design. She also investigates the social history of recipe books. She consequently can be found most weekends delving into the vintage stores of Belfast in search of the perfect atomic leg and, like The White Queen has often believed in, six impossible things before breakfast.